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 Grayson approves drainage, water, and broadband programs: Plans will improve online and outdoor opportunities

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Motions from the last meeting of Grayson City Council will help improve drainage in the area around the sports park complex and Dixie Park neighborhood, as well as provide the opportunity to upgrade to broadband internet service for all Grayson residents. 

Council heard from sport park manager Grant Harper on drainage issues in the park during the meeting, with Harper explaining how pre-existing drainage problems in the area were impacting the park and adjacent properties. Harper explained that the park tied into existing drain lines to help keep the park free of standing water. Those lines, however, were in such bad shape that the park had to replace all of the lines on their side of the property line. That didn’t help, though, when the lines were still collapsed and clogged on the other side of the highway. In addition, Harper explained, the grading of the ditch into the existing catch basin isn’t steep enough to adequately encourage proper draining. As a result, standing water often backs up into Dixie Park and onto other adjacent properties during heavy storms as well. Harper explained that funding repairs to the ditching and drainage would benefit not only the park, but homes and families on those adjacent properties as well. 

Harper also noted the state is planning to help with repairs to drainage that currently passes under the road and causes the drainage issues that plague Dixie Park. 

Harper came to the council to ask for “up to $30,000” for the project, with the understanding, he said, that the park board would come back to council with bids for their final approval before moving forward. 

Council moved to approve that request, with Mayor George Steele noting, “a good part of that is our responsibility anyway,” in reference to the drainage issues impacting property outside the park. 

Steele also asked emergency management director Roger Dunfee if any of the funding for the drainage project would fall under the American Relief Fund. Dunfee told Steele and council that he believed it would because it was an infrastructure project that addressed drainage and flood control issues. 

Council also moved to enter into a contract with the Windstream company Kinetic to provide broadband coverage to the city, voting unanimously to approve the agreement Windstream brought before council during their last regular meeting. 

Stephanie Bell, VP of State Government Affairs for Kinetic, said she was “really excited,” for the opportunity to extend the companies broadband offerings inside city limits. 

Bell said while she couldn’t provide exact numbers on the cost for broadband to consumers at this time, some customers could see a decrease in their bill. 

“I know one of your council members, fiber came to her neighborhood and her bill went down,” Bell said. She emphasized, however, that the costs will vary depending on the plans customers choose. 

Total costs to the city for the project will be $250,000, with Windstream footing the bill for the other $550,000 required to build out their fiber network. 

Bell said the project should be completed in as little as 90 days, once the process began. The bidding process for subcontractors who will work on the job could take just as long, however. 

“As soon as we execute the contract we’ll start our engineering process,” she said. “That takes a month or two. We’ll put it out for bid. Then they’ll start construction.”

She said the companies plans to hold a “big community event” to announce the project before beginning. They will also visit each neighborhood as they build out there, knocking on doors and leaving hangers on doorknobs to let residents know when they will be working in their neighborhoods. 

“We want to build excitement,” Bell said. 

It isn’t the only project that has Mayor George Steele excited though. He also expressed his enthusiasm for upgrades to city water utilities. That project, which will replace aging pipes, upgrade water meters, and install zone meters to monitor and pinpoint water loss, could save the utility – and consumers – hundreds of dollars each month. Steele noted the utility department currently loses hundreds of dollars each month just in billing adjustment for water leaks. Up to 35 percent of the city’s water is lost due to these types of leaks. The new zone meters, however, would help the utility department to pinpoint and address these leaks before they resulted in the level of loss the city is currently experiencing. 

Council moved to approve the request and adopt a resolution for the bond that will finance the water improvement project. 

“Every city council has a signature project,” Steele said. One that defines their actions for a generation or more. 

“You just passed two tonight,” he said, referencing the utility improvement bond and the move to provide the city with broadband. 

In other action council discussed a possible speed bump installation on North Hord Street, discussed liens on properties that fail to comply with city ordinances related to tall grass and other clutter, and accepted department reports. Council also approved a balanced budget ordinance and voted to change their meeting times from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. 

Council also discussed animal control issues and moved to approve another round of the city’s trap-neuter-spay-release program for feral cats. 

Council also considered the possibility of hiring someone to work in animal control enforcement, to collect stray animals and deliver them to the county animal shelter. 

Though the city has long clashed with county government over the duties of the dog warden, with the city noting that they also pay county taxes and therefore should be entitled to the full services of the county dog warden including animal pickup, the county contends that the cities must contribute to the dog warden’s costs to have animals picked up within city limits. 

Steele said at this point the cities are not getting the service they feel they are due from the county, however, “it’s either we do it and take care of it, or it continues to be a major problem.” 

Council moved to advertise a part time person in code enforcement to also serve as an animal control officer, responding to calls of aggressive dogs and to help trap cats for the spay-neuter-release program. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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